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Today we are looking into the phenomenon of computers getting smaller and smaller but also more powerful. There is a limit of how small such a machine can get with off the shelf components and if you want to go even beyond that, we have to enter the realm of accepting some custom parts. DELL has been doing for years their workstation range of Optiplex small form factor pre-build computers. Their new ‘MFF’ offering (Micro Form Factor) is built using SO-DIMM RAM (aka laptop memory). Thanks to Crucial, we will power this tiny computer and see how it performs. Also this is a great opportunity to check out how effective SO-DIMM RAM is, despite the fact that thy are half the size of their regular DIMM brothers.

 
First about Crucial

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Crucial is a global brand of Micron Technology, Inc., one of the largest memory and flash storage manufacturers in the world also ranked among the Top 5 Semiconductor producing companies in the world.
They make computer memory upgrades (DRAM) and solid state drives (SSDs), and offer more than 250,000 upgrades for over 50,000 systems.

 

Prices and Availability

 

A 32 GB kit will set you back around $ 164.99 or £ 158.39 carring the product code CT2K16G4SFD824A. We have two of these CT16G4SFD824A which basically form the 32 GB kit.

 

Presentation and Specification

 

*Courtesy of their website.*

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Crucial DDR4 SODIMMs

Product Highlights

  • Speeds start at 2133 MT/s
  • Increase bandwidth by up to 30%
  • Reduce power consumption by up to 40% and extend battery life
  • Faster burst access speeds for improved sequential data throughput
  • Optimized for next generation processors and platforms
  • Available in modules up to 8GB and kits up to 32GB
  • Limited lifetime warranty

More speed. More battery life. More memory capacity. Fuel your next-gen laptop.

In the ever-changing world of technology, any component more than five years old is usually in need of an update. At seven years old and counting, that’s where DDR3 memory is at: laptops can only do so much with it. Since the introduction of DDR3 memory technology in 2007, processors have doubled in capability, SSDs have revolutionized throughput, and graphics cards have drastically increased frame rates, leaving memory as a limiting factor. With Crucial DDR4 SODIMMs, crush the DDR3 memory bottleneck and unlock a new standard of performance.

More Energy Efficient
Extend battery life by using less power. Operating at just 1.2V compared to 1.5V for standard DDR3 memory, Crucial DDR4 SODIMMs consume 20% less voltage than standard DDR3 technology. Crucial DDR4 SODIMMs also contain other efficiency features, for an overall power reduction of up to 40%.

More Density
Pack more memory into your laptop than ever before. Crucial DDR4 SODIMMs debut in densities up to 8GB, and as DDR4 technology develops, modules are projected to hit 32GB — allowing you to install twice as much memory as you could in a DDR3 system. Since laptops only have 1-2 memory slots, high-density Crucial DDR4 SODIMMs allow you to overcome this limitation and install more memory for faster mobile performance.

More Speed
Load applications faster and run demanding programs without lag. Crucial DDR4 SODIMMs debut at 2133 MT/s —more than 30% faster than DDR3 modules.

Micron® quality—a higher level of reliability.
As a brand of Micron, one of the largest memory manufacturers in the world, Crucial DDR4 memory represents the future of computer performance. From the original DDR technology to DDR4, we‚ve engineered the memory technologies that have powered the world’s computers for 35 years and counting. When you choose Crucial DDR4 memory, you’re choosing memory that’s backed by a limited lifetime warranty and designed for the world’s leading systems. don’t settle for anything less.

Product performance and efficiency improvements are noted as comparisons between DDR3 and DDR4 memory technology. As of May 2014, standard DDR3 memory achieved speeds of 1600 MT/s and operated at 1.5V, compared to DDR4-2133, which will operate at 1.2V. When voltage reductions and all other energy-saving DDR4 features are factored in, DDR4 modules are projected to consume up to 40% less power. As DDR4 technology matures, speeds and bandwidths are projected to respectively hit 3200 MT/s and 25.6 GB/s – twice what was possible on DDR3 technology.
Limited lifetime warranty valid everywhere except Germany, where warranty is valid for ten years from date of purchase.

Micron - Intelligence Accelerated

 
The most important part to acknowledge is the fact that they come with the latency of CL17, they are DDR4 PC4-19200, also dual ranked, x8 based, unbuffered, NON-ECC, 1.2V SO-DIMM RAM and operate at 2400 MHz.

 

Visual Inspection and Installation

 

They are shipped in these standard transparent plastic slides and are easily recognisable due to the Crucial sticker on the front.

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Mind you, they have a black PCB instead of the green one present on their website and all of the official vendors. This, I presume this will be updated soon on all channels. Alas, the tag gives us all of the main information: capacity, frequency, voltage and latency. 16 GB of DDR4 per sticks this small, is a great feat by itself !

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Here is what SO-DIMM looks like, size-wise next to a standard memory module.

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As for the installation process, we will demonstrate it using a Dell Optiplex 3060 micro form factor workstation. We have to remove the top blower type cooler and it will reveal the horizontal SO-DIMM RAM slots. The installation is precisely as in any laptop – just slide the sticks in and press downwards until the latches grab the notches on the memory modules.

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Cooler goes back on top, which is excellent positioning because it will take the heat from the RAM and dissipate it.

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Love it ! The Optiplex fired straight up and detected all of the RAM, considering how ‘picky’ a custom computer of this type might be. So kudos to Crucial.

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Testing methodology

 

We will employ a run of synthetic benchmarks at their stock XMP value of 2400 MHz. Since this is a workstation and a custom design computer with a locked BIOS, we cannot overclock them further than their set values. Still, our suite of test will give us plenty of information to know what to expect from them.

Hardware used:

PC: DELL Optiplex 3060 MFF 8500T Hexa-core H370 Chipset 65W Power Brick
Storage: Samsung 860 QVO 1TB SATA SSD 2.5″

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Yes, the computer is that small …

Software:

OS: Windows 10 Pro x64 Version 1809
CPU-Z v1.86To verify the CPU’s and RAM’s statistics
Aida64 Extreme v5.98Memory analysis and Benchmark suite
Cinebench R15Popular CPU benchmark
Cinebnech R20The new revised version optimized for the newer multi-core CPUs
Uniengine Heave 4.0Set at FHD at “High” settings
Uniengine Valley 1.0Set at FHD at “High” settings

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Testing and Results

 

We start with the integrated memory benchmark from AIDA64 so we can see the overall read, write and copy bandwidth.

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After that, we will do a RAM torture test where the appreciation fills almost all of the available RAM to check system stability.

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Next up is a run in Cinebench R15. While this is more a CPU bound test, we know that RAM will help any CPU in this particular test.

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We include the newer and more specialized R20 version of Cinebench which uses a much larger and more complex test scene than R15, requiring about 8x the computational power needed to render it. The test also requires about 4x the memory. Therefore, R15 and R20 results cannot be compared and is an excellent new addition to our benchmark suite.

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As for the 3D/games, this being a workstation and only runs on the integrated Intel UHD 630 iGPU, we only did a run on “High” settings from Uniengine’s popular the built-in benchmarks: Valley and Heaven.

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Analysis

 

Well first things first. Having 16 GB per 1 stick of SO-DIMM is amazing ! We have come a long way. I would say 32 GB on such a machine is almost overkill but given its nature of a workstation, everybody knows that having a lot of Chrome tabs opened at the same time, will require a lot of RAM.

Compatibility is excellent, as mentioned before, the fact that the Dell didn’t require any bios update and fires straight up, is very welcomed.

Now let’s tackle the performance numbers. In AIDA64 we got a healthy 34.6 GB/s and 37.5 GB/s in the read and write tests. When compared to a previous review with another kit of 32 GB kits also from Crucial but on the Threadripper platform mind you, there we got 49.5 GB/s with 76 GB/s in the same tests. But there we had 4 regular sticks, higher frequency, totally different platform and a CPU overclocked to 4 GHz. So this low power machine still manages to offer some good numbers.

The torture test in the same application as above, shows us no errors or system crashes even with the RAM filled almost at the maximum. So you can open a lot of Chrome tabs before it gets filled up.

In Cinebench tests, which are more CPU bound, getting close to an i7 4790 in R15 and beating a laptop i7 6700HQ, these are very respectable results.

As for the Valley and Heaven benchmarks, on high settings at FHD, we barely got half of the minimum smooth framerate of 30 fps. But these have little impact in our review at hand, regarding the RAM tests.

But, this low power 35W TDP six core CPU, the 8500T, when combined with and SSD and these RAM from Crucial, make on hell of potent combination when it comes to office work. The RAM offers plenty of headroom for multitasking, the IPC gains from the 8th gen CPUs from Intel, even these low power versions, are enough to make the PC work very fast. Every application boots right up as fast as my main PC which has all the goodies like M.2 970 EVO 2TB, 8 core AMD Ryzen 7 1700 CPU, 16 GB of RAM at 3000 MHz etc.

There is plenty of competition from Corsair, G.Skill and Kingston for example who offer slightly better specs and even a heatsink, but Crucial has their Ballistix Sport LT to counter those.

 

Conclusion

 

Crucial’s offering for a 32 GB kit to match this DELL Optiplex MFF format workstation, is perfect. They offer specific product compatibility on their website to make sure they will fit and work with certain custom machines. As per the SO-DIMM kit at hand, it performed flawlessly, it fitted perfectly, offers great performance results and they just plain work ! Also the fact that they are dual rank, you can take advantage of the higher density per module and they make an excellent upgrade path to any laptop or custom machine that accepts SODIMM memory, especially those that only have two slots.

The good:

+ Really good balance of density, frequency and latency
+ High compatibility
+ Great overall performance
+ Black PCB
+ Dual rank

The bad:

– A little expensive when compared to the competition
– No heatspreader

 

Glob3trotters “Editor’s Choice” Award – 4.5 out 5

GG

Many thanks for Crucial for supplying us this epic kit !

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